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5 steps to revive milk kefir grains

The wonderful thing about milk kefir grains is their endurance. Even after pausing their activity to produce kefir you can revive milk kefir grains. There are many reasons why you would need to revive milk kefir grains. Perhaps they were in the fridge for month or two. Or perhaps they traveled by mail. The steps to revive milk kefir grains vary depending on the condition of the kefir grains.

Revive milk kefir grains that were in the fridge or sent by mail

This is a step by step instruction how to revive milk kefir grains:

1st Step: Take them out of the liquid and rinse with lukewarm running water, preferably non-chlorinated.

2nd Step: Put them in a glass jar (Kefirko kefir fermenter) and add just a bit of fresh milk. It is better to use small amount of milk because the grains are not active yet.

5 steps to revive milk kefir grains2

3rd Step: Cover with a clean cap – not to tight to allow gas from the fermentation process to escape and leave the grains in milk on room temperature. You can use Kefirko jar that allows slightly opened top lid. Check regularly if there is a sign of activity.

5 steps to revive milk kefir grains3

4th Step: Shake the jar after 24 hours and see if the milk thickens or it stayed liquid. Stir with swizzle stick or wooden spoon.

5 steps to revive milk kefir grains4

5th Step: Strain the fermented milk – use the plastic sieve or strainer lid on Kefirko jar. Rinse the grains with running water and put them  in fresh milk. If the milk over-fermented use a bit more milk this time.

Repeat steps 1-5 for two to ten days. The clear sign or reactivation of the grains is thickening of the milk. However, pay attention to the smell and looks of it. In case it smells funny after several days or looks strange,  find some fresh grains.

Furthermore if the grains send by mail are fresh you can revive milk kefir grains quite quickly and they can produce drinkable kefir within few days.

Freezed milk kefir grains

It is possible to freeze milk kefir grains. In case to revive milk kefir grains, you need to thaw them in the fridge, strain them and repeat the steps written above. Again, it is important to check if the milk thickens and continue to change milk every 24 hours until grains can produce drinkable kefir.

Dried kefir grains

On the other hand, in case you have dried kefir grains the first thing you need to do is to put them in cold clean water for several hours to re-hydrate. After they’re re-hydrated, put them in the milk. From there the process is the same like with grains in other conditions – allow it to ferment at the room temperature for 24 hours and check if there are signs of kefir production.

Pay attention! If the grains are yellow, brown and crumbly don’t revive them but throw them away.


Get your Kefirko kefir fermenter here.

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Urška Benčina
Articles: 202


    • Hi!
      I’m not sure I understand. The grains were frozen or not? If the kefir grains are frozen they can last up to few months. You just take them out, thaw them and revive them (5 steps to revive kefir grains). If they were in the fridge, it’s possible they died. Try to revive them with milk and you will see if the fermentation will happen (the milk will thicken).
      Hope it goes well.

      • Hi Urska,
        I have a milk kefir, I left it in the fridge filled with milk for 3 weeks with the lid on. The milk had a lot of cream in it, which separated and went to the top. In the past I’ve just drained the milk, filled her with more milk and continued on daily using the kefir. Is this ok?

        • Hi Leanne, thanks for leaving the comment.
          Sometimes the separation happens, especially if we leave the kefir to ferment longer. If the taste and smell of kefir are ok, you can just stir it and strain the kefir ready to consume.

    • Hi,
      yes it can be harmful to put them in the water, especially if it’s not clear. Note, this is a revival of kefir grains. When you have activated grains there is no need to rinse them in water between batches.

    • My grains are goes small in size after rinsing it with tap water. After that grain are fermented like as mile and water is seprated. And kefir is not give sour taste as before. Can my grains is died?

      • Anil that’s the same problem I’m having. It’s like the milk is spoiling before the grains make kefir. Everything was going perfectly and then it just stopped one day.

  1. I received milk kefir grains in the mail 3 days ago.
    I have been soaking them in milk on the counter since.
    The grains are floating on the top. Is that good or bad?

    • Hi Rita!
      It is possible to take more time for grains to activate. Does the milk thicken at all? Try changing the milk a few more days, maybe even stir the milk occasionally and leave it on room temperature. If the grains don’t activate in 7-14 days there is a possibility they are bad.

    • It’s fine. The grains are producing carbon dioxide gas, and that will often cause some grains to float. It’s perfectly natural.

    • I bought a kefir grains on line , it take many days to received, when I received them i forgot to put it in the milk for one week, then they become little yellow color. Do you think they died?

      • Hi, thanks for commenting. The only way to see if the grains are ok is to try them out. If they ferment and kefir is ok in smell and taste then they didn’t die. Try changing the milk every day and see how it goes after few days.

        • Hello! When you say “change the milk” what are you doing with it- discarding it or can it be drunk as milk? I am reviving frozen grains with milk at room temp, they haven’t been in over 24h

  2. Hi I was making Kefir regularly. Over summer I needed to take a break and I put them into milk and left them in the fridge for 2 months. Will they be ok the start up again ?

    • Hi Debbie!
      It’s hard to tell if your grains will still be active. Try to leave them on the room temperature and change the milk every day. The activation can last up to two weeks. If it thickens and the smell is OK, the grains are activated.
      Hope this helps!
      Best regards,

  3. Hello, Kefirko.

    I was given a piece of kefir (as big as a walnut) about 6 years ago and always exspected it to increase in size.
    On the contrary it fell apart in many small grains and turned from white to brownish. It still generated good kefir, except for a few times with organically produced milk, which I had bought at organic food shops.
    Each time I used that kind of milk the result was a white, spongy, rubber-like lump of cheese swimming on top of the whey. The grains were enclosed in that cheese-like matter. It was hardly possible to re-extract them. Thus I lost almost my whole amount of grains.

    Inexplicably that did not happen when I employed organically produced milk of lesser (EU-Bio) quality.

    My questions are:

    (How) can I increase the amount of kefir-grains?

    What is wrong with organically produced ( Demeter, Naturland, etc.) milk?

    Thank you for your answer.

    Regards, Carsten

    • Hi Carsten!
      Thanks for writing. You are opening some interesting questions to which, I hope, our other readers and fellow kefir fermenters will also have some answers.
      It’s hard to tell about the quality of your grains without analysing it in a lab. Since they’re making kefir, which you find OK, they must be good. But it it natural for grains to grow a bit with every batch you make.
      What you describe with making it with organic milk, to me seems like over-fermentation. For how long do you ferment kefir? Separating whey from thicker kefir happens when you leave it to ferment for more than 24 hours, especially if the temperature is higher.
      So, there are a lot of things that can affect your kefir making. If you are out of grains, you can check if there is anyone sharing them on or you can get them here

      Hope all turns out well!

      Best regards,

    • where i live in australia, it generally follows that the more expenseive the milk the more unhomogenised and (sometimes) unpasterized cream there is in the milk. This very creamy milk needs to be stirred more often than non fat milk, or the grains can become trapped in a firm cream mixture floating on top of the milk. The grains digest all the lactose from the cream and can become very dificult to seperate from firm cream mix as described by Carsten, especially if left to long. But the milk underneath the cream may still not be properly fermented since mixture has not been stirred during fermentaion period

  4. Hi Kefirko,
    I was given kefir grains which I feed with Sucannet and just leave in the fridge. But then the past six months I didn’t feed it and it turned brown. I tasted it and it tasted like alcohol.
    Can I still revive it? I just wanted plain kefir with the milk.

    • Hi Marian!

      Thanks for leaving the comment. It’s hard to tell what is the situation with the grains. Six months is quite long period for live culture to survive without food. I would suggest taking it out of the fridge and pour fresh milk over them (just to cover them or a bit more). Then change the milk every day. This can take up to 10-14 days. If the fermentation process starts you will find the milk thickening and the regular smell of kefir … if the milk doesn’t change, the grains aren’t alive probably.
      Hope for the best!

      Regards, Urška

      • I recently started reviving my kefir grains and they are still alive after being neglected in the back of my refrigerator for over a year. I separated the nasty looking ones from the healthy ones and slowly began getting them to produce kefir. I just saw this post so I’m sure I’ve been doing things right. In the beginning they had a funny smell to them but after only 4-5 days of trying to revive them, I now smell a difference. I have not tasted it yet but I’m excited to see if it actually works!

        • No update? I swear my babies (grains) must come from good stock.. They are tough as nails.. 4 months sitting in the same milk.. I just took mine out and separated them.. They look good to me.. not gonna even sip on that milk its been sitting in.. Put them in fresh milk a few minutes ago.. I had left the in for 6 weeks without problem, 4 months now.. will be interesting.. yours for over a year is off the charts !! lol.. They’ve survived 2000 years.. the same babies then are yours today.. I truly think I could bury mine in a burlap bag, dig them up in 6 months and they would be ready to kick butt 😉 Mark, Houston Texas

          • Good day……. I was making kefir just fine for a week and I rinsed the grains like I always did……… And I added refrigerated milk instead of heating the milk a little to room temp……… And since then my kefir hasn’t thickened at all……… The milk goes sour before the kefir forms…….. I tried to rinse them in unchlorinated water and then I left them in unchlorinated water for 24 hours to remove any contaminants………. And then added them to room temp milk again but it still hadn’t done anything…….. Am I doing something wrong…….. My grains are still rubbery and a cream color……… They don’t smell off or haven’t changed color

          • Hi Mark,
            it may be due to temperature shock. Try putting them in a small amount of room temperature milk for a day, then change milk. Repeat this a couple of days to see if the milk starts to thicken again.
            All the best, Kefirko team

    • Milk kefir grains don’t feed on Sucannet, they feed on lactose. That is only in milk.
      You can use Duccsnet on WATER kefir grains. Two completely different srains.

  5. Dear Urška
    I left my kefir grains in the fridge for about 3 weeks. I’ve been changing the milk every day, but no luck in getting the milk to thicken just yet.
    Could I revive them by placing a spoon full of healthy grains from my friend’s batch?

    • Hi Sue!

      Thanks for getting in touch! If I understand correctly, you are now trying to revive them after leaving them in the fridge for 3 weeks.
      – Did you change the milk, when they were in the fridge? You should change it approx. once a week to ensure they have enough food even when they are “resting” in the fridge.
      – For how long are you trying to revive them now? It sometimes takes up to 14 days for grains to activate again.
      – Do you revive them on the room temperature? If they are in the fridge, the fermentation slows down.
      – Other grains won’t significantly affect the old ones. If you have other activated grains, you should just use them separately.
      Hope this helps.

  6. a friend gave me frozen milk kefir grains. I’m thawing in fridge. I have raw goat’s milk that I’m going to revive these with, Can I use cow milk kefir grains to make raw goat milk kefir?

    • Hi Martha!
      Thanks for your question. It’s possible to make kefir with goat milk. But since they were made with cow milk until now I would recommend to start with cow milk until the grains are revived. Then switch to goat milk and maybe leave some grains aside, if this isn’t success. The revitalisation period of grains is sometimes a delicate thing. Also when someone gives us the grains it’s best to slowly adapt them to different milk that we use.
      Hope it works out!
      Best, Urška

      • I received kefir grains from cow’s milk this summer and, since i dont drink cow’s milk i started them right off in goat’s milk and they did great! They were not dormant at the time however, having arrived to me in a jar of cow’s milk.

        • Hi Kirk!
          thanks for sharing this. People often ask for advice on how to change the milk and how this affects the grains. Great to hear you have positive experience! Regards, Urška

          • I’ve had goat milk kefir before and it was Not as thick as cow milk kefir. I think that’s because goat milk has less sugar and more fat than cow milk. Hope this helps.

  7. Hi,
    To slow down kefir production I leave the new batch (grains & fresh milk) in the fridge for the 1st 12-24hrs then transfer the jar to room temp, on the counter, for the next 12-24hr cycle.

    In this manner I produce a fresh batch every 2 days rather than daily. It has been observed that once they are transferred out of the fridge they are very active.

    Is this process harming the kefir grains?

    What is the ideal ratio of grains to 1lt milk (1 qrt). (Tbsp grains per quart?)

    Thank you for a gr8 site.


    • Hi George!
      Thanks for leaving a comment here. Putting grains in the fridge is slowing them down a bit. I do that every now and then when I’m away for a day.
      If you notice that the grains are more active after you take them out of the fridge, that probably wont harm them. You will see after a month or two if there are any changes.
      About the ratio, using Kefirko we fill up the small cup on the top lid for 0,6 l of milk kefir. That would be about a tbsp of kefir grains. For 1 litre that would be a bit more than 1 tbsp. You should try what is the right ratio because the results depend on the room temperature, milk and quality of grains too.
      Hope this helps.
      Best regards,

  8. Hi, My mother-in-law found a kit for making Kefir maybe from the 80’s, is it even worth trying start them up? The little pack rattles like what ever is inside is completely dry.

    • Hi Lainie!
      That’s amazing. Try them out, maybe they will activate. 🙂 Put them in a little milk and change it every day. Be careful, do not consume anything if the look or smell of it is a bit off. This is probably a far-fetched experiment, but you never know. 🙂
      Best regards,

  9. Hello I am new at legit making and I rinsed it with tap water…I forgot…did i kill it? Is there something to do…it doesn’t thicken the milk since 18 hours….it usually works after just two hours…I can see it start….now milk is liquid kefir is floating…but nothing else…I am so sad I assassinated my little guys.

    • Hi Tanya!
      It’s hard to believe you killed the grains just by rinsing them once. It’s true that water slows the kefir grains, so leave them a bit longer, maybe the milk will start to thicken anyways.

      Best regards, Urška

  10. Hi, I’m Michael, I have one question. I’ve made kefir milk with sour smell and taste. one day, I thought kefir milk was over-fermented and washed my kefir grains with small amount of cold water( as same height as kefir grains or less within 5 secs), and fresh milk to reduce sour smell. After that, however, rate of fermentation was reduced and smell was not sour(but kefir grains are still like jelly and milk was thicken enough). I don’t know what’s going on and want to make taste of kefir milk sour again. please let me know how to resolve this problem.

    • Hi Michael,
      maybe you need to make more batches before the grains come to its previous potency. Sometimes washing them reduces their activity for a while.
      Let us know how it goes.

  11. I received my Kefir yesterday. I strained them and put them in 3 cups of milk in a glass jar with the lid on and put it on the kitchen counter. I think it was a lot of milk. I don’t see anything happening after 15hrs. It just looks like regular milk no real change. Is there something I should be doing for it now. One thing though it was quite cool in my house.

    • Hi Alva,
      how many times have you repeated this process? You have to change the milk every day. This can take even up to 14 days, until the milk thickens, becomes kefir. Maybe you can use less milk, so you don’t make as much waste.
      Regards, Urška

  12. I’m in a little disbelief. I have neglected my grains for approx 6 months – just at back of fridge and not fed at all. I believed them to be dead as there was also a pinkish mould and the time and neglect. Regardless of my thoughts I decided to see if there were any living ones (purely out of curiousity and HOPE!). I’ve given them small quantities of fresh biodynamic milk for the last two days and it seems they are active!!!! I’ll continue doing it for awhile so I can sift out any dead ones and strengthen them. I’m in amazement that they are still alive!!!
    What are your thoughts on this?

    • Hi Shelley,
      it’s interesting news.:)
      The kefir grains are a live culture and it seems yours didn’t die yet. If the kefir has the right consistency and smell they probably are alive. It is questionable what is the bacteria strains value in the kefir that you will be able to produce from these grains. Usually if the grains do not receive food they slowly die.
      Keep us informed how it goes.
      Best, Urška

      • Hello, I left my kefir grains in the fridge with milk for two weeks, came back and there was pinky whiteish stuff on it, almost like a film. I got rid of these ones and have added new milk. Was going to leave to ferment for the usual 24hours. Will this lot of milk be safe to drink? Or is it harmful to drink? Thank you very much.

        • Hi Nicola, it’s hard to tell what is happening to them. You will se what happens, if they will activate, what will kefir taste and smell like. Hope it works! 🙂

  13. Hi,

    So, I decided to visit my gf and to take my kefir with me, which was already fermenting for about 16 hours. I then left my car and took all my belongings but forgot my kefir. It was sitting in the car for about 3 hours on a hot summer day. When I realized it, i ran back and got the jar out of the car as quickly as possible. My question is: Is the kefir still safe to drink? Did I just kill my Kefir. It still looks find, but it was pretty hot when I got it out of there.

    Thank you!!

    • Hi!
      Thanks for leaving a comment.
      High temperatures make the grains “work” even faster, if your kefir was left in extreme temperatures it’s possible it’s not good to consume anymore. If you find it smelling funny or weird in taste definitely don’t drink it. The grains should probably be still OK, just change the milk and they would probably work ok since this happened only once.
      Hope this helps. Enjoy fermenting!

  14. Hi Kefirko,
    I have used my kefir with expired milk. Only expired a few days, not more then 5 days. 2 of the bottles wasn’t open at all but when I opened it had a strong smell. I used organic milk. I used it to make kefir. My question: Is it safe to drink the kefir? Looked like the milk was thickening and fermenting but never used expired milk before so I am a little concerned.

    • Hi there, thanks for leaving the comment here.
      It’s hard to say for sure for your individual case if the drink is ok. You should rely on your taste buds and gut feeling. If you feel that the kefir is OK, maybe try it just a little and see for yourself if it’s ok. If the smell or taste of the kefir is off, definitely discharge it and make a new batch. 🙂 Regards, Urška

  15. Hi Kefirko,

    This is my first time of making a milk kefir drink. I got it via post after 1 week shipping. I’ve just done my second batch, the kefir is growing well but I don’t know if it just me, I think the milk kefir taste like spoiled milk. It’s sour and smell bad. Not fresh and yoghurt-y at all. I just wondering can kefir grain produce spoiled product? Any suggestions to solve the problem? Thank you very much before

    • Hi Amellia!
      Did you activate them slowly? It can take up to 14 days to activate them in smaller amount of milk. The taste of spoiled milk isn’t what you’re after. It has to be fresh, tangy, sour … more potent than yogurt, though.

  16. Hi, I am following your steps to revive my kefir grains which I had neglected in the fridge for 6 months. I had changed the milk 3 times and the milk has started to thicken. But it still tastes sweeter and not as sour as before. I am hoping I am on the right track and my kefir grains are not completely dead. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Hi Peggy!
      Thanks for commenting. If the taste improves you probably are on the right way, though six months is quite a long period for grains to starve. Hopefully you are successful in activating them in few more batches.
      Regards, Urška from Kefirko team.

  17. Hi Urska,
    I’ve been fermenting my grains that i bought online for two weeks now and they have been fine and taste and smell of kefir good also until the last two batches. The grains look fine but the taste of kefir is not good, reminds me more of a bad milk than yogurt. Does that mean that my grains are gone bad?

    • Hi Maria, thanks for leaving your comment here. That’s weird that the grains just went bad at one moment. Have you changed anything: milk, temperature, ratio, time of fermenting … This can all affect the quality of the kefir.

  18. Hi,

    I had a batch of very healthy beautiful milk kefir grains for the past 3 years. Unfortunately, due to my life changing, I neglected them and they almost have died.
    I believe they are still alive because of the fact that the milk still thickens when I soak them in it and it tastes good. However, the grains have dwindled considerably in shape and form, and they have acquired a wired pink/reddish color.
    I would like to revive them. Is it possible? What does mean the reddish color they have acquired?
    With gratitude,

    • Hi Carina, thanks for leaving your comment here. It’s hard to tell with certainty if the grains are OK without proper analysis. If you decide to use them anyway certainly be careful and start with small amounts. Regards, Kefirko team

  19. I have been making beautiful milk kefir with raw, organic milk for over a year. My grains have been increasing and I have been giving them away and freezing my extras. The last month my milk is not getting thick even if I leave it sitting out for 48 hours, which I don’t like to do. Is there anything I can feed it with to encourage the milk to thicken? I have heard that a probiotic capsule helps. What are your thoughts?

  20. I have frozen Kefir grains I have revived after six months, but understand that some of the components of the grains die after a few months. I am reviving the old grains, after thoroughly rinsing, in milk, adding them with fresh Kefir grains. My hope is that after a few weeks, the old grains will add any missing components from culturing with the fresh grains, and after a couple weeks, I can split and share my grains. Has anyone tried this? After a couple weeks I see no difference in the quality of the kefir to my fresh grains alone, though they do culture faster as I have more grains than if I had just cultured the fresh grains. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Mark, thanks for commenting.
      This is actually a great way to get kefir from activated grains. It’s hard to tell with kefir, we have to rely on taste and smell if we don’t make analysis of the kefir to be sure about it’s bacteria content. While we often gift the kefir grains or give away extras, we never really know if the grains were once frozen.

  21. Does the milk need to be heated (150F) first when activating new grains? I understand the milk should be cold. My dehydrated grains are not doing much and after 24 hours the milk smells a little bad. I am at about 5 cycles into it. I have been mostly changing the milk every 12 hours because when I left it for 24 it got thick and smelled bad. Now every batch smells a little off. Timing is tricky since my work day is so long. It’s pretty much every 12 hours, or 24.

  22. Hi,
    I’ve got my kefir grains back in July 2019 and they worked perfectly for about couple months. They made a very good kefir which was good and very smooth. Unfortunately, for the past month, the composition has changed to be more crumbly and not creamy anymore. However, the taste is still ok. Any reason why would this happen and what can be done to get the same creamy texture?

    • Hi Roxane,
      thanks for your comment. This can be true if you have problems with water, for instance if it’s chlorinated. This can in a long term kill the grains. But rinsing them in water does not damage the grains, it can slow them a bit though for a while.
      Kefirko team

  23. Hello I was given kefir grains many years ago and enjoyed it ever since. When I first got the grains they used to increase in size quite quickly so that I could give some away. Now they seem to work ok but they stay small and i wonder why as i haven’t changed my treatment of them. I was told to rinse in water (we have rainwater) then store in the fridge with no milk til I needed to make more. They are a little darker in colour now. Thanks for a great site.

    • Hi Judy. Thanks for commenting here.
      It can be many reasons for this happening, the grains are live cultures and sometimes they just have periods when they stagnate. Keep up with regular fermentation. Add some minerals occasionally too.
      All the best! Kefirko team

  24. Hi I didn’t realise there was a difference in mil and water kefir so I put my milk kefir into coconut water and left them for 24hrs. The water was very bubbly and tangy but I strained and I drank it anyway. The taste wasn’t appealing but interesting. The half the kefir were sitting on the top of the water and half were down the bottom of the glass. Ive now put them in milk again. I was just wondering what health benefits if any were in the coconut water after I drank the coconut fermented water?

  25. Hello: I dried up my kefir grains after being frozen. Placed them on a plastic zip-lock with some cream powder. But I did not place them in the refrigerator. Two or three days afterwards, I realized the milk is getting creamy.
    I realized they should be in the refrigerator. I placed them right away.

    Do you think they will still be fine?
    Thank you,

    • Thank you for your questions.
      Best way to check the grains is to put them in milk and leave to ferment. If they don’t show signs of activity after 2-3 batches, they are probably not working anymore.
      Kefirko team

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